Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Exlamation Point

Over the centuries the written word has evolved many traits to better its survival: from the humble list-dividing semi-colon (;) to the aggressive, argument-ending full-stop (.) and the cacophony of others in-between it is fair to say that our written languages would make little-to-no sense were it not for this handy collection of dots and dashes and wavy-lines and other such utter nonsense and the sense of division, derision and decimation they supply.

But of all these useful tools of language there is one I hate more than any other, more than a great many things, and that is the Exclamation Point.

I vaguely remember as a child, while making my first forays into the world of the written word, that I approached it with such gusto and enthusiasm that it seemed each and every word that I wrote, typed, etched or psychically inscribed upon whatever medium had been set-up for the task of conveying my meaning and imagery was to be expressed with the same amount of positive, explosive emotion that I had set about the task with and so I found (looking back upon my early works) a heavy usage of the Exclamation Point. A monumentally heavy usage. I mean, it was astounding. Were it not for the basic rules of narration and personal preference regarding the nature of description in a non-addressive manner every single sentence would not have ended simply with a full-stop but with an exclamation point. And those that contained implicit or explicit questions would find themselves boarded with the gut-wrenching combination of both Exclamation and Question mark-ation (Or, worse, had I known of it at the time, the Interrobang, which my good friend Snypadub did a brief blog about at an earlier point way-back-when).

And so it was with this severe over-use that I found my taste for this hateful piece of punctuation first wilting, then waning, and finally resulting in my employment of a type-writer that actually pre-dates it and does not contain a key for it. However I still find myself using it in an unnecessary capacity (I had to actually remove one just then -ed.). A large volume of my discourse with others is littered with this abusive and obtrusive form of meaning-enhancement (without any such use! It enhances NOTHING) and I read it back finding myself sounding insincere and over-enthusiastic, as if I am trying to cover up a deep-seated distaste or lack of understanding for the subject at hand. Or worse, when it reads like my voice and actions would reach speeds and pitches only observable by dogs or bats and conveys a sense that I am getting hyped-up over something when anyone who knows me would be able to tell you I am sitting there with very much the same kind of straight face with which I approach many of my day-to-day tasks.

It's not the kind of image I like to convey. It's not who I am. I am not a being defined by excitement, by mark-able enthusiasm, and I don't like my writing, be it career related or simple conversation, to be hindered or misguided by this hateful evolutionary trait of the un-chainable art that is the transmutation of thought to paper (Or data). I shall forever strive to limit my use of it (perhaps to only 10 times a document, or perhaps 1 for every 1,000 words) and cease this unrelenting torrent of needless punctuational diarrhoea.

(This has been an uninspired personal rant, and I apologise for having waste your time, but thank you for getting this far. Your support has been greatly appreciated, and for those of you who have done this, I present you with my favourite word in the French language: "Moue". Thank You.)

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